Welcome to the weekly roundup from the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy.
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Clean energy around the globe

Following President Trump’s announcement last week that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a number of states and cities in the U.S. have responded with pledges to uphold the commitments of the Agreement. Pittsburgh, a city that Trump singled out when he said he was elected to represent its citizens rather than those in Paris, is one of nearly 250 cities in the U.S. whose mayors have committed to honour and uphold the goals of the Paris Agreement. In a New York Times opinion piece, the mayors of Pittsburgh and Paris joined to rebuke Trump’s announcement and express their desire to fight climate change together. And earlier this week, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to sign legislation to implement parts of the Agreement. The legislation gives state officials legal basis to continue their pursuit of mitigation and adaptation measures despite the Federal government’s withdrawal from Paris.
After hundreds of major corporations spoke out in recent months urging Trump to stay in the Agreement, many CEOs issued statements criticising the decision. U.S. tech giants, including Apple, Facebook, Google, and Intel, were particularly outspoken, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he would leave two presidential business councils.
The responses to President Trump’s announcement from the business community are unsurprising given recent momentum among the world’s largest corporations to reach 100% renewable power, which has been spurred on by an alliance called the RE100. These companies are using power-purchase agreements (PPAs), or long-term contracts to buy clean power from solar and wind farm developers at fixed prices, rather than buying the bulk of their power from utilities. According to the Economist and data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, large companies have driven the development of a cumulative 20 GW of wind and solar projects, four GW more than the entire onshore and offshore wind capacity of Britain.
Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel released a review of Australia’s National Electricity Market today. The review proposes new security and reliability requirements for generators, increasing the costs for variable renewables. The report also proposes a clean energy target, however, which will act as a technology-neutral subsidy for low-emissions generation sources without directly penalizing carbon intensive sources. The clean energy target models a scheme with an emissions reduction target of 28% on 2005 levels by 2030.
UK renewable energy supplier Good Energy has raised more than £10 million from its second corporate bond, which it launched with the hope of raising as much as £20 million from existing and new investors. Good Energy will use the funds to pursue new business units including battery storage and electric vehicle charging.
China’s Sungrow Power Supply Co. has built the world’s largest floating solar farm at the site of an abandoned coal mine in Anhui province, 300 miles northwest of Shanghai. The project, which has 166,000 panels that float on a lake created when a nearby mine collapsed, is similar to facilities in Japan, the UK, and Israel. It is part of China’s plans to spend $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020.
Earlier this week, the Oxford Martin School was grateful to receive a visit from Dr. Amory Lovins, co-founder, Chief Scientist, and Chairman Emeritus of the Rocky Mountain Institute. Dr Lovins talk, ‘Disruptive Oil and Electricity Futures,’ is available to view on the Oxford Martin School's YouTube channel

Energy storage

According to GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association’s (ESA) latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor, the first quarter of 2017 was the largest quarter for US energy storage ever with 234 MWh deployed, representing more than fiftyfold growth year-over-year. Measured in MW deployed, the quarter was the third largest in history behind the fourth quarters of 2015 and 2016. The increase was primarily driven by large front-of-meter projects. Behind-the-meter deployments have declined since last year due to a pause in California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program. A bill to restart the programme, with $1.4 billion in rebates, has passed the California Senate and will now go to the State Assembly.
California remains the only state in the U.S. where storage incentives have been implemented, but Nevada is the fourth state to pass a bill creating an incentive for energy storage. Nevada joined New Jersey, Maryland, and California when it adopted the bill earlier this month, creating a 30% tax credit for energy storage devices. Though incentive programmes for energy storage are in their infancy in U.S. states, they will likely offer important takeaways for other states that are crafting their own storage incentives.  
The Cook Islands will complete a $3 million project to install a 5.6 MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system for the integration of renewables. The aim of the project is to reduce the Cook Islands’ reliance on imported diesel. The project is being funded by the Asian Development Bank, the European Union, and the Global Environmental Fund, and once operational, it will be linked up to a grid-connected 1 MW solar PV plant.
A new white paper from Navigant Research predicts that global installed hybrid energy storage capacity will grow from 78.6 MW in 2017 to 2.1 GW in 2026. Hybrid energy storage systems (HESS) have advantages over typical stationary energy storage systems that include lower costs, increased system efficiency, and increased system lifetime due to optimised operation.

New energy technologies

At an annual shareholders meeting in Mountain View, California, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that the Model 3 will begin production next month. Demand for the new Model 3 has been substantial, and Musk estimated the wait list is more than a year long. In September, the company will reveal an electric semi-truck, and Tesla believes it will be able to produce the trucks at scale in two years.
Ingenu is delivering an Internet of Things (IoT) network serving 184 million people in Nigeria, facilitating machine-to-machine and smart grid applications that will reduce costs associated with infrastructure management and upgrades. In May, Trilliant Networks and Ho Chi Minh Power Corporation completed Vietnam’s first smart city communications platform. The growth of the smart grid and IoT systems market has been notable in developing countries, which is one of the reasons the global IoT operating systems market is expected to grow from $289 million in 2017 to $1.7 billion by 2022, according to market research platform MarketsandMarkets.
A team of researchers from France and Russia has developed a magnetoelectric random access memory (MEL-RAM) cell that can reduce the energy necessary for read and write operations by 100-fold. The cell has the potential to increase power efficiency and decrease waste heat, which could aid in the production of devices such as instant-on laptops, close-to-zero-consumption flash drives, and data centres that require far less air conditioning than usual. The field of research has been labelled ‘spintronics’ and takes advantage of the fact that significantly less energy is necessary to influence the spin of an electron, rather than its charge. The research was reported at the end of May in Applied Physics Letters.

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